No offense, sir

The Navy is proud of the training it provides for sailors. The Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) team takes particular pride in the information technology training it provides to enlisted sailors, who go on to be a technically educated workforce for the fleet.

But it wasn't always smooth sailing. The premise of the IT training is that sailors are taught on IT systems during their shore rotation for three years — and get certified in a slew of systems, from Microsoft Corp. to Oracle Corp. to C++ to Cisco Systems Inc. — in exchange for an additional two years of service at sea in an IT position.

"We made assumptions about the training," said Navy Lt. Antonio Scurlock, the NMCI enterprise training officer at the Naval Network and Space Operations Command (NNSOC). "We thought we could train anybody. After all, [the Naval Air Systems Command] says they can teach anyone — anyone — to fly."

Sitting to Scurlock's left, however, was Rear Adm. John Cryer, commander of NNSOC and a proud naval aviator decked out in a leather flight jacket. Cryer flew off aircraft carriers in the late 1970s and early '80s and has logged more than 3,200 hours of flight time in the EA-6B Prowler, an electronics countermeasures and jamming aircraft.

It seems it is easier to train a pilot than to train a geek. No offense, admiral.

Not so user-friendly

The Navy eBusiness Operations Office launched its new Web site last month, touting it as one that "simplifies navigation and enables our customers to more easily find commonly requested information," according to a message on the organization's old site. The note also said, "We are aware that many users on the [NMCI] network are currently unable to access the new Web site. This issue will be resolved shortly."

Does that mean the people who developed the Web site can't view their own work?

Methodical or ignorant

Why did the Army publish a policy in March about buying Microsoft Corp. software when officials signed an enterprise license deal with the company last June?

"Effective immediately, all new desktops, laptops and servers requiring Microsoft software will be installed and delivered from the hardware vendors using the Army inventory of Microsoft enterprise license agreement products," states the memo titled "Army policy for use of the Army's Microsoft Enterprise License Agreement."

Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, the Army's chief information officer, signed the memo. So did Claude Bolton, the service's top acquisition official.

So either it took nine months to implement the policy or users in the Army's decentralized IT community continued to buy hardware loaded with Microsoft products after June.

DOD: On the cutting edge

It's no state secret that the Defense Department's analysis of its spending and inventory isn't the greatest in the world. But Pentagon officials are looking to change that.

Speaking at Federal Sources Inc.'s Annual Federal Outlook conference April 1, Deidre Lee, director of Defense procurement and acquisition policy, declared that DOD is going to analyze what it spends on goods and services.

"We're actually going to analyze our spending," she said. "I know all of you in business have been doing this for years, but now we're going to do it, too. We're going to know what we're buying and who we're buying it from."

And, she added, "we're going to think about buying stuff more strategically."

This is, after all, DOD. Too much progress at once makes officials' heads spin. n

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